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shew your face in the world; nor rise, quoth Meanness, in the church; nor be any thing in it, said Pride, but a lousy prebendary.
But 'tis a civil thing, said I; - and as I generally act from the first impulse, and therefore seldom listen to these cabals, which serve no purpose that I know of but to encompass the heart with adamant, · I turn'd instantly about to the lady -
But she had glided off unperceived, as the cause was pleading, and had made ten or a dozen paces down the street by the time I had made the determination; so I set off after her with a long stride, to make her the proposal with the best address I was master of; but observing she walk'd with her cheek half resting upon the palm of her hand, — with the slow, short-measur'd step of thoughtfulness, and with her eyes, as she went step by step, fixed upon
the ground, it struck me she was trying the same cause herself. God help her! said I, she has some motherin-law, or tartufish aunt, or nonsensical old woman, to consult upon the occasion, as well as myself; so, not caring to interrupt the process, and deeming it more gallant to take her at discretion than surprise, I faced about, and took a short turn or two before the door of the remise, whilst she walk'd musing on one side.
IN THE STREET.
HAVING, on the first sight of the lady, settled the affair in my fancy that she was of the better order of beings; and then laid it down as a second axiom, as indisputable as the first, that she was a widow, and
wore a character of distress, I went no further; I got ground enough for the situation which pleased me;
and had she remained close beside my elbow till midnight, I should have held true to my system, and considered her only under that general idea.
She had scarce got twenty paces distant from me ere something within me called out for a more particular inquiry; - it brought on the idea of a further separation: I might possibly never see her more:
the heart is for saving what it can; and I wanted the traces through which my wishes might find their way to her, in case I should never rejoin her myself. In a word, I wished to know her name, her family, - her condition; - and, as I knew the place to which she was going, I wanted to know whence she came; but there was no coming at all this intelligence: a hundred little delicacies stood in the way. I formed a score different plans. There was no such thing as a man's asking her directly; — the thing was impossible.
A little French debonnaire captain, who came dancing down the street, shewed me it was the easiest thing in the world; — for popping in betwixt us, just as the lady was returning back to the door of the remise, he introduced himself to my acquaintance, and, before he had well got announced, begg'd I would do him the honour to present him to the lady. I had not been presented myself; – so, turning about to her, he did it just as well, by asking her if she had come from Paris? .... No: she was going that route, she said.
Vous n'êtes pas de Londres? .... She was not, she replied.
Then Madame must have came through Flanders.. Apparemment vous êtes Flamande? said the French captain. – The lady answered, she was. Peut-être de Lisle ? added he. . . . . She answered, she was not of Lisle .... Nor Arras? .. nor Cambray ?
nor Ghent? .. nor Brussels? She answered, she was of Brussels.
He had had the honour, he said, to be at the bombardment of it last war; that it was finely situated, pour cela, and full of noblesse when the Imperialists were driven out by the French (the lady made a slight curtsey); so giving her an account of the affair, and of the share he had had in it, he begged the honour to know her name, so made his bow.
Et Madame a son mari? said he, looking back when he had made two steps, and, without staying for an answer,
danced down the street. Had I served seven years' apprenticeship to good breeding, I could not have done as much.
As the little French captain left us, Mons. Dessein came up with the key of the remise in his hand, and forthwith let us into his magazine of chaises.
The first object which caught my eye, as Mons. Dessein opened the door of the remise, was another old tatter'd desobligeant; and notwithstanding it was the exact picture of that which had hit my fancy so much in the coach-yard but an hour before, the very sight of it stirred up a disagreeable sensation within me now; and I thought 'twas a churlish beast into whose heart the idea could first enter to construct such a machine; nor had I much more charity for the man who could think of using it.
I observed the lady was as little taken with it as myself: so Mons. Dessein led us on to a couple of chaises which stood abreast, telling us, as he recommended them, that they had been purchased by my Lord A. and B. to go the grand tour, but had gone no further than Paris, so were, in all respects, as good as
They were too good; so I passed on to a third, which stood behind, and forthwith began to chaffer for the price. . But 'twill scarce hold two, said I, opening the door and getting in. the goodness, Madam, said Mons. Dessein, offering his arm, to step in. .... The lady hesitated half a second, and stepped in; and the waiter that moment beckoning to speak to Mons. Dessein, he shut the door of the chaise upon us.
THE REMISE DOOR.
C'est bien comique, 'tis very droll, said the lady smiling, from the reflection that this was the second time we had been left together by a parcel of nonsensical contingencies, — c'est bien comique, said she.
There wants nothing, said I, to make it so but the comic use which the gallantry of a Frenchman would put it to,
to make love the first moment and an offer of his person the second.
'Tis their fort, replied the lady. ... It is supposed so, at least; — and how it has come to pass, continued I, I know not; but they have certainly got the credit of understanding more of love,
and making it better, than any other nation upon earth; but, for my own part, I think them arrant bunglers; and, in truth, the worst set of marksmen that ever tried Cupid's patience.
To think of making love by sentiments ! I should as soon think of making a genteel suit of clothes out of remnants;
and to do it
at first sight by declaration, - is submitting the offer and themselves with it, to be sifted with all their pours and contres, by an unheated mind.
The lady attended as if she expected I should
- Consider then, Madam, continued I, laying my hand upon hers,
That grave people hate Love for the name's sake,
And that all of us both old and young, being ten times worse frightened than hurt by the very report, ....
What a want of knowledge in this branch of commerce a man betrays who ever lets the word come out of his lips till an hour or two at least after the time that his silence upon it becomes tormenting!
A course of small, quiet attentions, not so pointed as to alarm, nor so vague as to be misunderstood
with now and then a look of kindness, and little or nothing said
leaves Nature for your mistress, and she fashions it to her mind.
Then I solemnly declare, said the lady, blushing,
you have been making love to me all this while.